Weeks after General Motors announced the closure of its plant in White Marsh, costing the county more than 300 jobs, County Executive John Olszewski, Jr. has asked the company’s leadership to reconsider.
In a letter dated Dec. 11, and addressed to GM CEO and chairperson Mary Barra, Olszewski cited the plant as an “anchor and source of pride” in Baltimore County since its 2000 opening. He pointed to hundreds of millions in public investment dollars poured into the facility, and nodded to the county’s manufacturing roots and the plant’s appealing proximity to the Port of Baltimore and affiliated shipping networks.
The 580,000-square-foot factory employs 310 workers. In recent years, the auto maker has promoted the factory’s green technology, ramped up hiring and touted its growth amid increased electric motor production. The factory is currently producing transmissions for the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pick-up trucks, though the facility is headed to closure in April.
“I respectfully request that GM find a product or alternative use for the plant that will keep all 300 of those employees working in Baltimore County,” wrote Olszewski, who was sworn in Dec. 3. “I understand that according to GM’s own corporate metrics, the employees at White Marsh are among the top performers across the entire company. Furthermore, I understand these employees have had very few grievances with GM management. The facility is both modern and effective, and I know these hard-working men and women remain committed to achieving high performance standards.”
Olszewski said members of his administration met with GM’s human resource manager, Erin Spitzer, to discuss how they can help with the fallout of the closure, including assisting employees with finding new jobs. He also invited Barra and other GM brass to come tour the White Marsh factory “to observe the world-class operation there firsthand.”
The facility is one of five North American plants that GM said it plans to shutter. The company said it’s grappling with falling auto sales and needs to streamline its operations to meet customers’ changing demands. It’s also killing several car lines, according to its November announcement. Overall, a reported 14,700 blue- and white-collar employees will be laid off.
Don Mohler, who was replaced as Baltimore County executive this month, said in November that the county would offer job and counseling services to affected GM employees.
Olszewski offered some more specifics today, saying he’s directed his administration to work with United Auto Workers Local 239, the union representing the White Marsh employees. Baltimore County’s Department of Workforce and Economic Development is coordinating with local employers to recruit GM workers, and is offering career fairs, workshops and career counseling, including resume and interview prep, he wrote.
Baltimore Fishbowl has reached out to UAW Local 239 for comment.
The national UAW has filed a formal objection letter to the planned closures, according to The Detroit News.